How to welcome home your college freshman

Last Updated 7 May, 2015

by Jenny Fultz

You can’t wait to see him again! That is, until he’s been home a week, leaving dishes in the sink and coming in at 2 a.m. The first time your college student returns can be challenging for both of you. Here are a few re-entry tips for welcoming your kid for the summer.

1. Resist the urge to revert. When your college student comes home, it’s easy to fall into old habits. Remember that he doesn’t need you to do his laundry, fill his tank, or check where he’s going and with whom. Work on the new adult-to-adult relationship that’s forming. Create conversations that you would with a peer, and treat him more like your best friend than like a child.

2. Define expectations for living together. Remember that she has been on her own for nearly a year; re-establishing high-school rules and curfews will likely result in frustration for both of you. Instead, talk about respecting each other’s needs and spaces. Agree on “quiet hours” for the home, and how late you’re willing to host her friends. Ask for clear communication on whether she will be there for dinner or if she will be spending the night elsewhere. Your relationship will shift from rules to respect and will make a better roommate out of both of you.

3. Nudge him toward a job. For two semesters, he’s been studying hard, managing more work and stress than he’s ever had to. Laying around in the sun sounds like the perfect remedy. And it will be … for a few days. After that, boredom and loneliness are likely to kick in. Make sure he has some of those summer hours occupied with earning cash for the coming year.

4. Remember that summers are filled with long days and short months. Take advantage of the opportunity to reconnect. Laugh and play as much as you can—you’ll be dropping her back off at college before you can blink.